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An Open Letter to My Love

You were not at all what I was expecting when I slipped into the chapel for the noonday service at our small university. I’d heard about you, was even in a class with you (although I’d not yet noticed you). But I’d never had a conversation with you. The place was packed, and when you went to the platform, I thought you were just there to give an introduction to the “real” speaker for the hour. But, was I ever wrong about that.

You were definitely the preacher for the hour.

You gave one of the most powerful and Spirit-anointed messages I had ever heard. You preached from Jude’s final four verses. And I wept. I wept because God spoke. I left that chapel longing for more of Him. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about sitting under your preaching—it consistently takes me to the Savior and fuels my love for Him rather than putting my focus on you.

That was the first time I ever heard you preach. That is my first memory of you. That chapel service is a place I enjoy visiting—it takes me back to the early and fresh beginnings of what would grow into a long-lasting love. That was almost forty years ago and oh, how very different our lives are now than when we spent that hour in the noonday chapel service.

Those fresh beginnings have matured into a golden season of deep and lasting love. And although this season is painful and hard—I would rather be here in the pain with you than in a world of comfort without you.

We had a long season of marital misery and hopelessness. But, thankfully, God worked on my hard heart. He dramatically changed me. He gave you hope and courage to lead my fierce self, and we’ve lived in the gift of that beautiful love relationship for more than two decades now. How grateful I am for that amazing grace.

But almost five years ago now, you started having weird symptoms, the “yuckyness” is what we used to call it, remember? And we started down a mysterious and quite unexpected trail, that turned into the hardest journey yet. We never would’ve chosen this for what our final season would look like. This would not be the story we would’ve written for ourselves. We had dreams and plans of doing ministry together until our last breath.

It never occurred to either of us that you might be sidelined physically and unable to continue pastoring.

We naively assumed that you would live out your years with the longevity and health that your parents, and both sets of grandparents, all enjoyed. You’ve always been my strong, athletic man who could do anything. In the early days of young love, we never could have imagined that you would struggle each day with pain, dragging one leg along—like a dead weight—as you attempt to navigate your way through this strange life.

This is not the life we would’ve chosen, but you are a far greater man than I realized when I first married you, and even knowing how hard this season would be, I would chose you all over again.

Thank you for giving me the daily example of what it looks like to battle for joy while enduring continual pain. Thank you for being the man of God you are—never complaining, trusting in God’s sovereign choosing of this as our way to glorify Him, starting your mornings in the Word and prayer, faithfully interceding for me and for others even while you are suffering.

You characterize for me the reality of Amy Carmichael’s poem: “In acceptance, lieth peace.”

Although we discuss the puzzling state of what we’re enduring right now, you always readily assure me that even in this dark season—God has a plan. And although our ministry looks much different than we thought it would, we are finding new ways to try to minister to others.

Your ministry of prayer is quiet, no one but me is really aware of it (well, now I guess the blog readers are, too) but it is a behind-the-scenes form of ministry that is effectual and of great value. Your determination to press on, is a ministry to others who are weary and provides motivation for them to press on as well. As they watch your response and see you pushing yourself to continue on, fighting for joy and depending on grace for perseverance, it provides an encouraging example for them. Your worship is sincere, not an emotional “high” produced because you’re soaking up your “best life now.” But your worship, while suffering and battling, gives evidence to the reality of the Savior you so faithfully follow.

And you minister to me. As I watch you day in and day out remain the same faithful man of God—more mature than the young buck who “preached the stars down” in that noonday service so many years ago—it provides for me a true picture of sincere love.

Wendell Barry captures my thoughts well: “I am blessed and choose again—that which I chose before.”

I would always choose you again, my dear husband who I admire with all my heart. I choose you and am so thankful you chose me.

16 Comments

  • Michele Morin

    I can’t think of a better Valentine to hand over to ALL our lived ones, no matter what their present circumstances.
    And it’s the one God delivers to us every day of our lives: I love you in this moment. I accept you in your weakness.

  • Doug Kaler Jr

    My precious Mom passed away unexpectedly last week. I always shared your words with her. She always found inspiration in your letters Thanks so much Kim.
    Love to both of you,
    Doug

  • Gary Corker

    I was looking for something I had written about the church I planted and found this entry in my journal dated March 12, 1996. I still stand by it.

    “Today was a walk down memory lane as I listened to the tape of my ordination. The message of that day was as fresh and applicable to me today as it was 9 years ago. What a great friend and encourager LeRoy has been over the past 18 years. He is still my favorite evangelist and I would enjoy working with him still. I don’t know anyone who loves the Lord and the people he serves more than Leroy. I am glad God bought us together as friends so long ago. I pray that God will bless his home, his church and his own heart. Thank Lord for Leroy”

  • Rache’l Campbell

    BEAUTIFUL!!! Thank you for sharing your journey! My husband just recently had surgery to remove two large hematomas on either side of his brain. Though he has recovered quite well life has changed. We have seen the beautiful blossoms of grace spring up all over along our new journey! 🙏❤️

  • fam

    Sorry to use this medium to contact you after another God glorifying article, but could you please tell me if you are still receiving donations through Day Spring church?

  • Barbara Stewart

    I will always believe…those inside the storm have a ministry that cannot be compared to any other. Thank you both. I continue to pray God’s blessings on your storm.

  • Vivian Etherington

    Kim, my goodness! This post brought me to tears and touched my heart deeply! You and LeRoy continue to be an example that continually challenges me. Your love for one another and the Lord are contagious and so encouraging ! Love you both much and continue to pray for you!

  • Lynn Hills

    Kim,
    It is good to get an update on you and Leroy. I’m so sorry for the pain you are both going through. At the same time amazed at both of your outlooks. I can’t imagine how difficult life must be. I’m committing to pray for you both as you go through this time of life.
    Love you my longtime friend,
    Lynn

  • Glenda Mclearen

    Kimberly

    Ya ll s journey continues to glorify God and show His unmeasurable grace. Suffering teaches us things we would never learn in the “good times”. I have yalls picture in my study – which reminds me to continue to pray for you both. Love your transparency and bare naked truth. Just know you are so prayed for.

  • Gail

    For some reason It has been a long time since I’ve seen your email . Thank you that even in your busy time you write still!
    You and your husband are both examples of , “ Christ truly living In and through your lives even when hard” . Your example Is encouragement to many as we see how trusting the Lord in our hardest moments will keep us in the center of His plan to see us through ! Prayers cover you with Love!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you, friends, for your kind words, your sweet encouragement and especially for your prayers. It is a blessing to read through each of your comments.

    Doug, I’m so sorry for your loss–your mom was a great lady, I know you all will miss her immensely.

    Gary, Thank you for sharing that journal entry. I totally agree.

    Rachel, I’m so very sorry for the trial that you and your husband are facing, but you are glorifying God through this season.

    Dearest Lynn ~ such precious childhood memories of you, dear friend. How I would love to catch up with you!

    FAM, thank you for asking. Yes, we do receive donations through our church (Dayspring) and are grateful each time the Lord directs someone to share. We are depending on Him to provide.

    For those of you who I didn’t name, thank you and much love for each of you . . . so grateful you are still hanging in here with us and especially for praying for us!

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